Shaggy Inkcap, Coprinus comatus
The Shaggy Inkcap, also quite wonderfully known as the Lawyer's Wig, has to be one of my most favourite edible mushrooms. Inkcaps have a unique way of releasing their spores and do so by dissolving and turning into a gloopy mess of ink! For this reason, Shaggy Inkcaps are quite recognisable and easy to ID. They are also wonderfully tactile, having very soft, delicate scales; a fragrant mushroomy smell; and a wonderful flavour. They do however, have an extremely short shelf-life, quickly turning to a mass of ink after harvesting, sometimes in as little as a few hours. It is best to harvest younger, all-white specimens before they open and start the process of dissolving into ink, otherwise they may stain any dish jet-black!
Inkcaps can also be encouraged to turn to ink for use in painting, art and crafts, and Arthur loves creating natural paint from these mushrooms, much to my annoyance as they are so delicious! What sacrifices a dad makes!
Shaggy Inkcap Checklist
🐑 Grassland, including paddocks, fields and meadows.
🏡 Urban Green Spaces, including scrubland, parks and gardens.
🌸🌞🍂❄️ Between April and November
📈 Grows singly, in small clusters, and sometimes in large groups.
🍄 A tall (up to 30 cm), white, sausage-shaped cap when young, covered in fine, white to off-white downy scales that are very soft to the touch.
As the cap matures, it begins to detach from the stem, becoming more conical in shape, with pink or purple cap margins. After detaching from the stem, the cap starts to dissolve into a black, gloopy, ink. Eventually the whole cap dissolves, leaving only a circular nub at the top of the stem.
⚛️ The gills start out white, before turning pink-purple as the cap detaches from the stem, then grey to black as the cap dissolves.
♊️ Long, thin, white and sometimes hollow. Has a small ring/skirt that can be detached very easily.
⚪️ The flesh is fragile and white. The cap will often split after harvesting.
🟪⬛️ The cap very quickly turns from white flesh to ink. There is often pink/purple/black colouration at the cap margins of this mushroom.
Aroma / Taste
👃 Smells rather nutty.
👅 Sweet, nutty taste and a crunchy texture.
😋 A choice edible mushroom.
🟩 ID Difficulty - Beginner
👀 This mushroom is very distinctive. The tall, softly scaly cap that turns quickly to ink are key identifiers of this mushroom.
🤚 The scales on the cap are very soft to the touch, often sticking to your fingers after handling them.
🍄 Fungi - Used in mushroom recipes.
🎨 Can be used to make ink for painting, art and crafts.